Self-proclaiming the title of ‘America’s Finest City’ is a big call, but San Diego delivers what it promises. California cool, sun bleached and so laid back the locals are almost horizontal, it’s easy to come here for a quick visit, and suddenly find yourself 8 years deep and owning an organic café.
So why bees? How did you get into bee keeping?
I picked up a beekeeping book by chance and was fascinated by the bees themselves. I couldn’t believe how sophisticated they are. I kept reading about them and finally decided if I really want to learn more I need to start keeping them. So, I asked my dad to build me a hive using some free plans I found online and I put up a craigslist ad that said I would come get bees for free and basically just started doing it. I kind of fell in love with bees.
What do you enjoy most about educating people about bees?
I frequently hear from people who used to be afraid of bees, who say they have gotten over their fear because of what they learned from me.
I love hearing from people who have made small changes because of their new interest in bees. People will say, I called a beekeeper instead of an exterminator when a wild colony showed up in my yard, or even just that they rescued a bee from their house instead of smashing it.
Best markets to check out to buy local, home grown produce?
My neighborhood, Golden Hill, has a Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, but I love picking up fresh produce at Suzie’s Farmstand when I am there checking my bees.
What is your favourite way to spend a weekend in San Diego?
Most weekends I am working, giving apiary tours or classes, but when I take a weekend off I love going to brunch or happy hour with with my friends. In the spring, I often go on hikes and search for native bees along the way. I also really love going to Mexico for the day. A friend runs a tour company in Tijuana called Turista Libre, that makes it really easy to hop across the border for some fun.
Your favourite organic food place in town?
I’m a big fan of Cafe 21.
How has beekeeping allowed you to connect with people from all over the world. What are the benefits of this?
It’s been really cool connecting with other beekeepers from all over the world. Everyone has a different way of doing things so it is cool to hear what they do differently. We can learn new techniques from each other. Natural beekeeping practices are not as accessible in some places and I think I have been able to help influence and guide some people who don’t have local resources.
Want to see Hilary’s full guide to her home hood of Golden Hill and beyond? Featuring cactus gardens, Mexican food trucks, speed boat tours and heaps more, this is basically all you need to see San Diego like a real local. Head here for more.